Between April and July, the political landscape within the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) was covered with a dark cloud on uncertainty about its future with members from Botswana National Front (BNF) and its offspring Botswana Congress Party (BCP) threatening to pull out at their respective conferences in July.
UDC President Duma Boko who is still adamant that the coalition will survive the storm was caught between a rock and a hard place as BNF and BCP members did not want to work with Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The delegates from the two parties made it known that they will pass a resolution to have BMD removed from the UDC or they will leave the umbrella and form an alliance. Boko is alleged to have pulled a masterstroke by talking to BCP President Dumelang Saleshando to register the amended constitution which he allegedly knew it will be rejected by the Registrar of Societies and it will take 21 days for the decision to be made. “This was to buy time for UDC and give both BNF and BCP delegates a pseudo assurance that there is progress within the alliance,” revealed a highly placed source within the UDC.
The plan worked perfectly well as both conferences went into wild jubilation when they heard that the constitution has been submitted for registration. The political lights dimmed when the Registrar of Societies wrote back and informed UDC members that the constitution has been rejected. The two parties are now forced to go back to their structures to seek a new mandate, a process which might take some time.
In an interview BCP President Saleshando expressed ignorance that he was ill-advised that the constitution that he signed with Boko and sent to the Registrar was the right one saying he was not aware. He denied that he was played along by other UDC contracting partners regarding the constitution. On the way forward for the BCP within the UDC, Saleshando said that the party’s Central Committee will decide in due course.
BCP finds itself in a very delicate situation as some of their parliamentary and council candidates have already made posters using the UDC symbol. The bickering within the UDC especially the public clash between Saleshando and BMD President Sidney Pilane is said to have made BCP members to take decision to pull out of the UDC. “BCP had already made their minds that they are going to pull out of the UDC. Their main reason will be that it is taking time to submit the amended constitution to the registrar of societies, but Boko got wind of that hence he rushed to register the constitution knowing very well it will be rejected,” revealed a highly placed source.
Another issue that is bothering the BCP is the reluctance by the UDC leadership to react to issues of national interest and failure by their contracting partner to come out clearly in support of their ongoing court case against the use of Electoral Voting Machines (EVM) in 2019. Saleshando has in the past expressed disappointment with UDC over the issue, diplomatically saying maybe it is not a priority to them.
The party is now caught in a delicate situation as they are still trying to take a decision on whether to leave the UDC or not. To compound the problem, BNF leadership is dragging their feet on the proposals from their offspring to reconfigure the coalition.
BNF Publicity Secretary Justin Hunyepa dismissed suggestions that they are dragging their feet saying they had bilateral talks with BCP. “Last week the BNF politburo met and a task force was appointed led by the party Vice President Reverend Dr Prince Dibeela which will look at the resolutions taken at the conference. They were advised to expedite the process,” he said.
Hunyepa said they will also be meeting BMD and BPP leadership to discuss on how they can work harmoniously to win the 2019 General Elections. “Imagine going to the electorates and informing them that you have changed the party again, it will give our nemesis political artillery to finish us off,” revealed a concerned BCP council candidate who refused to be named for fear of victimization.